I have a request for cheap, low budget, yet tasty meal ideas. I'm going to school at St. Lawrence College in Kingston and I live in an apartment with my boyfriend where we both pay half rent. So
money is a bit tight for me right now and I was wondering if anyone knew of any cool recipes?
EZ chili on spaghetti:
Serve over cooked spaghetti or stir cooked macaroni into chili. It's cheap, it's filling and it makes leftovers. (01/11/2005)
Hey I know the feeling, my family likes stir fry. You can get frozen vegetables at Wal-mart for like $1.50 and just cook it and add soy sauce. Serve alone, or over rice. I also go shopping early in the
morning so I can get the reduced meat, as long as you put it in the freezer and use it fairly quickly it is OK. Also do you get a local paper on Sunday's I have found that it is worth the 1.50 for the
coupons what I don't use I send to my sister who is in college herself. Good luck. (01/18/2005)
Hey I thought of something else my family likes that is cheap. Get tuna in water (.47) drain. Boil an egg, then chop the egg, chop some onion, add mayo and sweet relish, salt, pepper, garlic powder is optional, my
husband even likes olives and hot sauce in his. Serve on toast, or with crackers or even just beside a salad. Hope you can use some of these. (01/18/2005)
1lb cooked ground beef. 1 box of Mac and Cheese prepare as directed. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes. Combine all ingredients. It's quick and easy. If you like you can also add diced red and/or green peppers.
My kids love it. (01/19/2005)
This is quick and healthy. Take about 3 potatoes (peel them, slice them, and start frying them), then add about three eggs and start mixing it all up. Then cut in something that's meat product and add.
This takes about 15 minutes max and fills your stomach. (02/03/2005)
Ramen noodles are a college student staple. I like to take:
In medium pan heat water and flavor packet to boiling. Break noodles up and add to water with frozen peas.
Stir frequently. When noodles start to soften drain mushrooms and add. Add chicken and stir. Serve
Wal-mart has these noodles fo 10 cents a packet. You can experiment adding things to them.
I also like to add hamburger and cream of mushroom to the beef noodles. Serve with green beans.
Shopping at an Aldi or Save-a-lot store will save you much. Wal Mart has some good buys, but you have to be careful, also.
Here is one of the cheapest meal staples I have used for years. Even my meat loving husband gets full on this meal.
Easy Drop Biscuits and Gravy
right. Drop large scoops of dough with a soup spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. You can pat the biscuits to shape them, but my family likes the crispy edges that
come from leaving them untouched-up. The insides are fluffy and light. These are absolutely best straight from the oven, but they keep alright on the pan with a dish towel over them or in a zip lock bag left
open to retain some crispness (after they are totally cool). I have also made cheap gravy using 2 cups water, 2 tsp bullion (or whatever is suggested on the package) and 1/2 cup flour. Stir together and heat
in a sauce pan until thick and bubbly, season with pepper to taste. (02/28/2005)
I used to make this for my husband and I before we got married when money was real tight and we still use it in a pinch.
Brown a pound or so of ground beef. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce or your favorite seasonings.
Make instant mashed potatoes in the microwave as directed, but add a little garlic and cheese. If you don't have shredded cheese (it can be expensive on a real tight budget) use American cheese slices.
After the mashed potatoes are done, mix the ground beef with the potatoes and add a can of green beans or corn which ever is your favorite.
This meal is very filling and there is usually some left over for the next day. You can use real mashed potatoes if you like, but adding the garlic and cheese to instant helps mask the instant flavor.
Here is a good one, especially if you are having company. It is a form of spaghetti Carbonara. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices. Cook until browned. If needed, drain most of the
grease left behind. Dice a medium onion, fry until translucent in the bacon grease. Meanwhile, have enough spaghetti cooking to serve as many as you want to serve. In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 eggs
and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. After the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and return to the pan, add the cooked bacon and onions, the eggs and cheese and put back on very low heat. Stir together until the eggs
are set. Serve.
You can also add a can of peas to make it closer to authentic carbonera. Very cheap dish. You could also make a bacon gravy for over boiled potatoes, just fry the bacon, crumble, then cook a medium diced
onion. After onions are cooked, in skillet put in 2 Tablespoons of flour. Brown flour and then add milk or water to make a gravy, put back in the bacon and onion and serve. Just a few quick thoughts. You
could buy a piece of peameal back bacon, bake it, serve it as a ham for one meal and then for a second meal, dice it and "grill" it in a non stick skillet, bake a large potato in a microwave, split it, add
a low fat cottage cheese, some diced green onions and a bit to fresh tomato, the bacon and make a big old "stuffed" baked potato. This is a one dish meal. and cheap too.
If you can catch chicken on sale, fry some of one meal and boil the rest. From the boiled chicken you can make chicken and dumplings, chicken and noodles, and chicken salad either for a meal or for
sandwiches. An easy and cheap Stroganoff is 2 cube steaks cut into 1/2 in strips, fried, add a medium onion, then add 1 can of mushroom soup, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons catchup, a
can of mushrooms, water and all. Then 1 cup of sour cream. Cook gently, do not let the sour cream boil. Serve over noodles or minute rice.
Just have fun, these are the days for it. (03/27/2005)
Get a can of tuna in water. Drain. Mix with mayo or Miracle Whip, whichever you prefer. Add anything else you like, I just like the tuna and mayo with a dash of Miracle Whip. Put on bread (I prefer a
bagel). Slice some cheddar cheese and place on top. Put it in your broiler on a cookie sheet until the cheese is a little burnt. Serve with a big glass of milk. (04/28/2005)
Take a can of Cresent rolls and unroll the whole can on a cookie sheet. With your fingers make the dough one solid piece. Brown and drain 1 lb. ground beef, add enough Bar-b-que sauce to coat and spoon
down the center of the dough. Add cheese on top then fold the dough over, kind of like a burrito. Bake according to roll directions. A great, easy meal for only a few dollars. (05/01/2005)
My Mom fixed this when we were kids and I fix it for my family when money is tight, it is pretty tasty, I think it came from Girl Scout camp.
I am in college, and this is one of my favorite meals. Its cheap, its quick, and tastes good.
Heat up the beans and peanut butter in a pan, until peanut butter dissolves. Mix with the cooked couscous. Done.
It makes about 3-4 servings for my boyfriend and I.
I was one of four kids, with a single mom supporting us alone. We had a few "special"
meals that held us over in the day or two before the next paycheck arrived. Both meals are quick, good and cheap. However, I personally like them both with loads of black pepper.
Tuna and Noodles:
Prepare mac and cheese according to package. Stir in the drained tuna and vegetable. Serve.
Noodles, Bacon and Tomatoes:
Brown the bacon and drain. Crumble it into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the noodles according to package. Drain.
Stir in the tomatoes, bacon and a tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Serve.
By Aunt Wendy
Easy Pepper Steak
In a large skillet, add steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms, soy sauce, and butter. Cook until steak is done to your liking, add a little more soy sauce as needed. When steak is brown, add corn starch to
thicken mixture. Let simmer for about 7 minutes. Serve over rice. Cost is less than $10. (07/20/2005)
In college, and even now, this has been one of my absolute favorites:
It makes enough for two people and the taste is such a nice change of pace. My brother calls it "Bachelor Stew" because it is so easy and quick to make and still comes out quite impressive.
Note: If you like a little color to your soup (the above mixture will be yellow) you can add things like chopped broccoli, bell peppers, etc. Whatever suits you. The important part is the coconut milk and
Just had to add something my dad would always throw together. Its cheap, easy, and makes a lot and to this day I still love it.
Brown gravy, ground beef and egg noodles. Make them all separately and then on your plate make a bed of noodles, meat on top of that then a little brown gravy over all of it. I usually like to have corn
on the side but, I add corn to just about anything. (10/17/2005)
English muffin pizzas:
Cut the muffins in half lengthwise. Bake at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes, or until slightly crispy. They shouldn't be browning. Top each with a spoonful of tomato sauce and bit of cheese, plus meat, if
desired. Bake at 300 another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
If you buy all this at Walmart, it will cost $1.75. (Half a 12 pack of English muffins, half an 8 oz block of mozzarella cheese)
Also, I freeze all the bits of leftover meat and or veggies from other meals. I freeze it in Ziplock bags and mark the contents and date with a sharpie on the Ziplock bag. You can thaw and use these
leftovers for a recipe like this, or stir fry, pot pie, whatever. Comes in handy when you don't want to cook. (10/30/2005)
Look for "Michellines" (or something like that) brand frozen foods. These are usually really cheap and microwaveable too. And don't forget canned soups are usually inexpensive.
Recipe for Belly Buttons:
Try slicing hot dogs (around $2 a pack) into about a 1/4 inch slices and place flat side in baking dish. Pour (.99cents) Barbecue sauce over and bake at 350 degrees, until hot dogs are done.
If invited to a party then make these and serve them with toothpicks. Tell everyone they are "belly buttons" and they will be a hit. (11/05/2005)
I am also a college student, tight on money. One of my favorite easy, cheap meals is angel hair pasta (less than $2 at Safeway) and veggies. I just toss one green bell pepper and some garlic and oil in a
frying pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I cook up the pasta, which only takes about 3mins. After the pasta has been strained, toss it in the pan and add some salt, pepper, and any other
spices you like and you've got a delicious, healthy, cheap meal. Total prep time should be about 15 minutes. Enjoy. (12/12/2005)
I got this recipe from a friend of mine and my family of 6 loves it and there are always leftovers for the next day.
Easy Scalloped Potatoes
Cook the rice, and fry the onion and the egg together. Add the onion and egg to the rice, stir it through, and add soy sauce to taste.
Simple, effective, filling, cheap. (01/19/2006)
I have a great dish that is cheap and good. Take a head of cabbage and chop it fine. Add 1 package of broken, uncooked Ramen noodles and mix well. Then make the dressing: Add the pack of seasonings from the
Ramen noodles to 1/4 cup of oil and 6 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Pour over the cabbage-Ramen mixture and toss well. Add 1 cup of chopped cooked chicken, ham, or tuna. (You can
use canned cooked chicken) You can add chopped green onions or any fresh herbs you like, but in about 2 hours you have a delicious salad that keeps for several days. (02/15/2006)
My roommate and I created a great dish when we we're flat broke called Johnny Mash.
It's incredibly cheap, cooks in 3-4 minutes, delicious and filling for hours. (04/05/2006)
Being a mother of 3 boys with one income, we live on a tight tight budget. Here are a couple great ideas that are yummy.
If you have a stove/oven, you can make this. You will need a muffin pan (the larger sized, not mini).
Spray muffin tray with nonstick spray, lightly. Open the cans of biscuits and separate, divide each biscuit into 2 layers. Put one layer in each cup of the muffin pan, pressing lighty into bottom and
sides. Spoon the soup into each biscuit lined tin, to almost full. Top each with the other half of biscuit. If you have seasoning (garlic, Italian seasoning, etc.) you can sprinkle something on top for
flavor, or even some shredded cheese. Cook at 375 degrees for 15 - 18 mins. Use a knife after letting cool for a few minutes to loosen from sides. (05/30/2006)
I love corn tortillas and you can usually get 50 for about a 1.50 at Walmart. (Note that corn tortillas taste better if you fry them in oil or nonstick cooking spray for a few minutes. Or if baking make sure
they get really hot.)
Eggs and tortilla omlette: rip up a couple of corn tortillas and start to fry them in an omlette pan (or fry pan). Scramble some eggs together with tomato paste and season salt. Once the tortillas are
soft, pour the batter over the tortillas. You can flip the patty like an omlette, or if you are impatient, you can just scramble it all together. I like to complete the dish with just a little bit of salsa
Southwest casserole: Take your favorite Mexican ingredients (refried beans, ground beef/chicken-cooked, cheese, corn, onions and salsa). Layer the ingredients (about three layers), starting with ripped up
tortillas. Bake in 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Top with sour cream. (02/26/2007)
One of the quickest things I've ever eaten. I used to have this all the time when I would go straight from school to work and be gone from 8 am to 11 pm and was exhausted.
Boil a potato with the skin on. Chop up said potato into a frying pan with a little bit of oil, add diced onions and green peppers and an egg or two. Cook and scramble like you would make scrambled eggs
until the potato is golden brown on the edges. Eat and enjoy. Very filling. (03/06/2007)
Get a $10 Crock Pot from Walmart. Then throw in anything you want such as vegetables, potatoes, meat and cook for a few hours. It's idiot proof. Just don't add too much salt, and you got a good meal which
can be frozen and recooked.
Also, this will allow you to use really cheap ingredients like dried beans, etc. (04/30/2007)
CHICKEN PARMESAN: So easy.
Sliced tomato version:
Follow directions above but bake the chicken separate from pasta/rice. Put chicken in pan, slice of tomato on top, add cheese when almost done.
Be careful, tomatoes are very hot when they come out of the oven. (05/30/2007)
You can also add a can of tomato/veggie/cream soup to mix to make it juicier. (05/30/2007)
Easy Chicken Fried Rice (You'll need a Wok or a big frying pan for this one)
that has escaped in to the oil.
I usually make a lot of this and then eat some while refrigerating the rest for meals later in the week. It'll last a decent amount of time as long as the seal in the container is air tight. I've never
actually timed it but I've eaten it up to two weeks later and it was fine. You can also substitute other meats for the chicken: pork, ground beef, beef strips, etc. (06/21/2007)
My boyfriend's favorite meal reminds us both of being a kid again. Take a box of Mac and Cheese make as usual. Then open a roll/can of crescent rolls or biscuit dough and roll a package of hot dogs for "Pigs in
a Blanket". Bake as long as the crescent rolls or biscuit directions say. Really, really good and great comfort food. (12/17/2007)
The thing to remember about Ramen is it's packed full of sodium and very few vitamins. Cheap yes, healthy no. For cheap and healthy, I suggest homemade dhal masala. If you invest in the spices (turmeric,
ginger and garam masala) the lentils are $0.89 a pound. Can't beat that.
Soak a cup or so of lentils for half an hour, chop an onion and fry in the bottom of a pot with a little oil. Drain lentils, add to the pot with a couple cups of fresh water. Boil, boil, boil; add a diced
tomato if you like, or some frozen peas, and keep adding water as needed to keep it soupy. When the lentils are completely cooked and it's all kind of a mush, add spices, salt and pepper liberally.
Healthy and good for vegetarians!
Broccoli, Cheddar and Spinach Soup
(ambiguous amounts, but that's how I cook. Bear with me.)
Put butter/bacon fat in a large pot till melted. Add finely diced onions over medium heat. When onions are golden add diced potatoes, broth and chopped up broccoli. Don't worry if broth doesn't cover
everything. Put a lid on the pot and let boil on medium high heat for a half hour. Now add the frozen spinach and put the lid back on for another ten minutes.
Now get a blender or better yet, an immersion blender and blend the hell out of the whole batch. Careful, its hot.
When it reaches your desired texture, add shredded cheddar and slowly add the cream. Stir until everything melts together. You have soup. Eat with toast. This will feed one person for about a week. I know
because I lived off this my first two weeks in NC. Enjoy. (03/21/2008)
on top of the ready made pizzas and add mozzarella cheese on top. Then finish with the chopped veggies and pre-browned chicken. Place in oven at 450 for 15 minutes. (04/12/2008)
By Taylor and Kara
This is something that my boyfriend and I make all the time because its easy and cheap.
Sometimes we throw in a little tub of Sour Cream, though I'm not sure why. Try it if you're interested.
Preheat oven to 350 and begin cooking pasta. Once it is complete, mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, but save at least 3/4's of a bag of cheese. Pour the mixture in a casserole dish and pop it in
the oven for about 20 minutes, then put the rest of that cheese on top and cook it for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. And there ya have it, a yummy, cheapo casserole. (04/22/2008)
Tater Tot Casserole
Brown Hamburger, drain. Mix hamburger with soup, cheese, green pepper and onion in baking dish. Top with tater tots. Follow baking directions for the tater tots. Delicious.
Red Beans and Rice is a nice idea for cheap. We ate this a lot when I was growing up. My basic recipe uses 2 Cans of Red Beans or 1 Can of Red beans 1 can of chili beans. 1 Roll of Sausage and at least 2
cups of rice.
Brown the sausage and then add in the beans drained or not drained. Let them simmer if you didn't drain them or simply leave the pan on warm if you did drain.
Boil the rice and serve the beans and sausage over the rice. I also use small amounts of Tabasco, garlic, steak sauce, and barbecue sauce to create a tasty sauce that is totally optional. Feeds 4-6 people
for one meal or just my self and girlfriend for at least 2 meals. When I was living alone I would eat this stuff for 2 or 3 days for under 5$. (10/01/2008)
A lot of these recipes have meat which is really expensive and not to mention hard to digest. It's so easy and cheap to make vegetarian tasty meals. Get some TVP (Texturized vegetable protein) at a health
food store. These are dried granules that mimic ground beef. You use 1 cup granules to 1 cup hot water and you'll get double the amount. Add a bit of soy sauce or soak in hot bouillon instead of water to give
it flavour. Then add to chili, tacos, spaghetti sauce, this is a great source of protein and much cheaper than meat. Some meat eaters use this and a combination of ground beef to make meatloaf. Here is a
great TVP meatless loaf that serves a lot. My friends kids who are meat eaters loved it
before removing from the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite gravy. This entire meatloaf can feed about 6 people and costs about $2-3 to make. (10/27/2008)
Here's one I didn't see and my mom made a lot. Around here, a pound of bologna is about $1, 5 lbs of potatoes are $2 and a can of corn about $0.50. So it's less then $3 for 6 or so people to eat.
I've always called it: Fried Bologna Meal
Cook potatoes so that you have mashed potatoes and warm up the corn. Then fry the bologna in a pan, don't worry they will curl up like a bowl and that's what you want. Fry up two or three per person.
Then on a plate put the fried bologna, in the middle of the bologna put some mashed potatoes and put on some of the corn on top of that, enjoy.
Now that us kids are out of the house, my mom told me the other day that instead of frying the bologna in a pan, she puts it in a muffin pan just like she would on a plate and then adds cheese to it. I
haven't tried it yet but it sounds real good to me. (04/18/2009)
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